Sunday, September 22, 2019

RED Camera Sensor Conspiracy Theories

Jinni.Tech publishes its investigation of who supplies RED camera sensors:

Thanks to ED for the pointer!


  1. Here is part of what I wrote to the (same) person who sent me the link:

    Thanks for sharing this video. I did not watch it in full detail, but it certainly looks well investigated and produced. I will say my small consulting with Forza in ’07 had nothing to do with RED. Other than that, I didn’t see anything that I disagreed with that pertained to me, particularly as it drew from things available on the web, which never forgets! (At least not so far).

    Personally, I doubt the revelations in this particular chapter will come as much surprise to the image sensor community. If designed by Forza, they were incredibly tight-lipped about it, yet it seemed some people knew something, perhaps via other sources or their own investigation as exampled in this video. On the other hand, at the recent 2019 Int. Image Sensor Workshop, I finally ran into someone who claimed to manage a large team of sensor designers at Red. So my statement about never meeting a sensor designer from Red probably needs to be relative to the time of the statement. I don’t recall his name and I can only take his word that he was a sensor designer or manager of sensor designers.

    I have also had occasion to look at a few patents of Jannard et al. The modular camera invention seemed like a nice innovation and the USPTO granted them a patent. Between that and the success of RED, I have to admire Jannard’s entrepreneurship and tenacity at entering this market with a better and successful series of products (some not so successful, like with any company).

  2. I should add that I think this video was part of someone's "axe to grind" with RED. So parts are a wee bit inflammatory, and some of us are "featured" based on existing internet material. Actually, the image sensor technologist celebration is nice, but I am a little uncomfortable about involuntarily being the sharp edge of the axe. Nevertheless, it is a well-done documentary as far as I can tell.

  3. We live in an amazing age, where you can run a multi million dollar business based purely on marketing lies, and at the same time a nobody Youtuber can destroy the reputation of that very business with couple of cheaply made vidoes. Can't wait to watch next episode.

  4. Albert Theuwissen - Harvest ImagingSeptember 23, 2019 at 7:12 PM

    Well I think this is a very good marketing strategy of RED. As long as RED does not disclose who designed the chip and/or who manufactured the chip, people are talking and guessing about it. And that is what you need to stay in the picture.
    At Philips we went through a similar discussion with one of our customers : we were not allowed to tell the world that we supplied the sensor, and that "secret" created a lot of rumours in the market. The end customer could only benefit from the attention in the markte (and we as a supplier as well !).

    1. Is it possible to disclose few hints to put together the picture which client or rather product was that?

    2. well it was good marketing strategy of RED until now lol

    3. Albert Theuwissen - Harvest ImagingSeptember 27, 2019 at 1:18 AM

      It was the FT19, the very first 36 mm x 24 mm pixel array (CCD) with in total 6 Mpixel (12 um pixel size).

  5. Looks like a disgruntled person, trying to see if he can in some way hurt RED. The case below shows that he indeed tried to copy the design of REDs minimags and then even tried to sue RED. In which case his complaint was dismissed without prejudice.

    Here is the link..'s%20MTD%20for%20Voluntary%20Dismissal%20wo%20prejduice.pdf

    1. Please do not comment if you do not know the full scale of that case. A short recap for you:

      If you hide a SATA drive into a fancy mechanically keyed enclosure (aka "RED minimag design"), and the only protection is the physical shape of the media, then sorry - there is no law that would forbid you to do so.

      The media protection in RED is actually this + an electronic obscureness, where one uses a "secret" function F, which calculates something from the SATA drive's part number and serial number. The result of F(sn,pn) is stored in persistent out-of-band r/w cells that are accessible via SMART operations. The F is simple enough to be discovered by just looking at few sample sn/pn and resulting values.

      So he did the stuff in the above 2 paragraphs and RED was like: HE STOLE OUR IP AND CUSTOM FIRMWARE WHICH WE PUT MILIONS OF USD!! Yet in reality - there were just ordinary consumer grade cheap SSDs in that fancy enclosure.

      What was more important - RED sold media that was marked 512GB and the camera showed 512GB, while the SSD itself was just a 480GB model. Nope, that was not a mistake of GiB or GB. And people bought that.. even when somebody complained that it shows up as 447GiB in Linux/Mac, or as 447GB (windows) - they were told, thats because of formatting. Right.. such companies deserve no mercy.

      The reason why RED media is now 240/480GB and not 256/512GB is because this poor guy WON against RED.

    2. While regards to 480 vs 512, Please get your OP facts correct. Link below for reference.

      Also looks like he has a financial incentive.

      Since he has reversed engineered the code function, it may simply be a FW/build change that may disable many if not all of these from working on the cameras, causing all his customers to lose money -- if RED really wanted to do it.

  6. It's curious that propel actually involved in development and who perhaps own or contribute to patents are sc ared of being sued by RED and now suddenly want to wash their hands off everything.
    The guy who made these videos is a crusader. He is taking on the large corporations that abuse IP and then target everyone who cannot get an expensive enough lawyer.

    I may not agree with Obama getting a Nobel Prize, but this guy definitely deserves it.

  7. Axe to grind? Sure. Does that invalidate his points? Not necessarily. I, for one, can speak to the yawning chasm between RED's claims and their actual products, as a former RED owner. I took apart their 9" touch LCD monitor, which sold for $3450 in 2012. Inside were a garden-variety video controller card, an off-the-shelf digitizer card (for the touch-screen functionality) and an extremely cheap, commodity-grade LCD panel that wholesaled for $40 and was spec'd by the manufacturer for "automotive dashboard" and "video poker game" consoles, not color-critical applications. Its color rendition was wildly inaccurate, though RED claimed it "performs according to RED specifications" when I sent it in for evaluation (before I realized the problem was cheap components with a 3000% markup). Their $3200 Bomb EVF was equally hideous (both the LCD and OLED models)... truly the worst EVFs I've used in a 30+ year career. There were similar problems with their in-house-designed accessories. IMO, the ONLY way RED could possibly have produced the sensor and ASIC was to farm out the entire operation, and simply assemble it into their overpriced cameras.

  8. mind blowing stuff, cannot wait for more episodes if there are any


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